Alnwick’s Lucy Bronze suffered a second-half injury as England endured late heartbreak to be knocked out of the World Cup semi-final by Japan tonight.
The 23-year-old defender, who scored two goals in the tournament, was taken off in the 74th minute. Things would get even worse for Bronze and her England colleagues as Laura Bassett scored a freak own goal in the 92nd minute to give Japan victory at the death.
It was harsh on an England side who hit the woodwork twice in the second half and tested their opponents on a number of occasions.
Reigning champions Japan had taken the lead in the 32nd minute thanks to a penalty by Aya Miyama, but England responded just before the break as Fara Williams scored from the spot.
England pushed after the interval. Toni Duggan and Claire Rafferty both hit the bar, Jill Scott headed inches wide from a Williams corner and Ellen White had a curling shot saved.
It looked as though the game was heading into extra-time, but Japan had the last word, taking advantage of Bassett’s own goal to steal a 2-1 victory. They will face the USA in the final.
As for England, they will take on Germany in the match for third place on Saturday (kick off 9pm BST).